Earlier this month ITV announced that cricketer and broadcaster ‘Freddie’ Flintoff would host its “adrenaline fuelled gameshow” Cannonball, which sees contestants face “a host of incredible inflatable obstacles and water-based challenges”.
Filmed in the Maltese city of Valetta, Cannonball is the latest in a growing line-up of international productions to be wholly or partially shot in the country which is often used to stand in for the middle east or other regions where it could be unsafe to film.
For example, Malta doubled for Libya in Michael Bay’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, and also served as the location for the 2013 Paul Greengrass and Tom Hanks film Captain Phillips where it stood in for Somalia.
Hanks had previously filmed in the country for The Da Vinci Code.
While Captain Phillips filmed off the Maltese coast, the country’s water tank facilities were used by Luc Besson’s military thriller, The Lake.
The country also featured in last year’s big screen adaptation of Assassin’s Creed which starred Michael Fassbender as a modern day protagonist who is able to relive his ancestor’s life thanks to some memory unlocking technology.
The film, which is now available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray, used the country as a double for its 15th century Spanish setting.
Other past hits to film there include World War Z – which also shot in the less exotic climate of Glasgow! – Gladiator, which shot its ‘Ancient Rome’ scenes in the country, and the 2000 French-American war film U-571.
Malta is also being used as a location by the latest remake of remake of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express which stars Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot, alongside Penelope Cruz, Dame Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley and Olivia Colman.
Like many other countries, including the UK, Malta is attracting films and TV productions through a generous use of tax credits and other financial incentives.
In this, the authorities are successfully replicating the low barrier approach they’ve taken with the online casino industry, a large part of which regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority and is able to use a single license to operate across the 28-member EU.
Buoyed by their success in winning UK and Hollywood productions to the Islands, Maltese film commission bosses have set their sights on some interesting new markets and have been courting filmmakers in Canada, Russia, China and, most recently, India.
Demand for reliable weather – essential for staying on budget – and exotic looking but safe and easy to control locations, combined with the financial perks on offer, makes it likely many more productions will be heading their way.